A.J. Love,
Interplanetary Funk
(Angel Magic, 2002)

The cover art -- a glowing UFO bathed in a spectrum of bright colours -- is attention-grabbing, yet also mellow and slightly hazy around the edges. It's an apt simile for the overall composition of A.J. Love's Interplanetary Funk, where the music forms the swirling gaseous patterns of nebulae, with the instruments perpetually mingling and separating.

The opening track, "Cosmic Weather," is bold and brash -- a strong rock beat underlying the tune carried by the sax of Hanah Jon Taylor. Jef Eckels' bass and Love's guitar blend to form the slower, moodier pace of "Tears For Earth," but again the sax carries the tune to higher levels. It has an innate jazz feel, reminiscent of Miles Davis, yet with Love's own style providing modern definition. "Mr Cool" reverts to Love's complex and seemingly chaotic funk.

Love wrote all but two tunes on the seven-track CD, yet gives his fellow musicians due credit, as the tunes were essentially improvised live in the studio by the quartet. Love provided the basic outline, played the guitar and then worked on the mixing and editing.

I prefer the less raucous tracks, like "Sunshine On A Rainy Day," when the sax soars and slides over and around the blend of guitar, bass and percussion, portraying a smokier, smoother, more traditional atmosphere. This particular track has the added depth of a guest rhythm section, and its classy combination, for me, was the highlight of the entire CD.

It is followed by a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows." I expected Love's guitar to lead and was surprised to hear, although the guitar is an unmistakable and well-defined presence, the sax take prominence. The one overdub on the CD is Taylor's sax when he also plays the flute for the medley "Spirituals From Neptune/A Love Supreme," the latter being a John Coltrane composition. The quirky vocals and the breathy flute make "Spirituals From Neptune" an individual offering from the other musicians. The final track, "Jupiter Revisited," re-enforces the full-blast funk of Love, with frenetic guitar running rings around the colourful sax, which in turn circles and twists about the bass, all to the solid backing of Gerald Williams' drums.

My decided preference for the two more melodic, jazz-orientated tracks means I will give A.J. Love a nod of recognition in the music shop shelves, but would pass by to look on other covers for saxophonist Hanah Jon Taylor. If you like funk, however, you should enjoy it all and clamour for more, as its playing time is only about half an hour. Interplanetary Funk is a vibrant and interesting CD that should have a definite appeal for true fans and be of interest to the curious.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 29 March 2003

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